Who I am…

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On July 13 I made a decision to take a social media break – at the time I only had Instagram.  It seemed like a decision made abruptly to those around me, but in truth it was a decision I had been contemplating for weeks if not months.  I didn’t plan to delete my Instagram app on July 13 but I had come to a place physically, mentally, and spiritually that I had had enough.  Enough of what? I actually wasn’t sure and for the past two months I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I knew that I felt God pulling me towards this break, to take time to focus my energies elsewhere (more on Him perhaps?).  So early in the morning in the midst of scrolling Instagram I exited out of the app and deleted it in the same breath.  Right after doing it I was in a bit of disbelief – did I really just do that?! Then the next thought – now what?

Well the summer went on, I did more soul searching, praying, reading, listening and honestly I felt no answers.  The first week and a bit I really missed it but after that life just went on and I barely thought about it.  Every so often I’d do a quick soul check and pray about getting it back but I never felt released to do so and I was perfectly OK with that.

Then a few weeks ago I decided to get Facebook back – if you know me you know this was a huge decision for me.  I’ve made my strong dislike for Facebook known, but it’s time to start getting rid of some baby gear and clothes and so I decided to get Facebook purely for the buy and sell groups and Varagesale.  I didn’t add any friends but several people found me, and slowly my friends list grew.  Then I joined a few Young Living groups and began to love them! Last night after a lot of debate and deliberation with myself I decided I would add all the people I knew that popped up on my suggested friends list.  I had this sudden urge to connect.  Similarly, today I re-downloaded Instagram and felt such a peace about it. Up until today I hadn’t fully known why I felt so strongly about deleting Instagram and although I had tried a few times to write about it and sort through my thoughts I never felt released to do that either.

Today though I finally feel like I have some clarity, and I feel released to write again.

At the time I didn’t realize how I was feeling – isolated, lonely, lost, trapped, no energy, lack of motivation.  I’m reluctant to say I was depressed – maybe it’s pride but truly I don’t feel as though I was truly depressed, I just lacked insight and that was bothering me and manifesting in depressive symptoms.  When I deleted the app I felt as though I had very little community that was true and real and I didn’t want to replace true community with false community.  Here’s where it gets good – today I had this amazing realization that ALL community is REAL community.  Online or in physical form – community is community, people are people.

I spent the last two months bouncing between trying to grasp physical community in full force – planning something several days of the week and being utterly exhausted from overbooking us and dealing with a baby that needed to catch up on sleep.  So one week I was a social butterfly, the next week I was a hermit.  Today I realized that I just needed to accept the place in life that I am and stop pitying myself and wishing I was in a different place. It took me deleting Instagram for me to be able to do that.  Now that I have it’s time to embrace all of who I am:

A mom of two – one being a baby that needs ample amounts of sleep.

A self proclaimed homebody.

A woman recovering from the most exhausting and taxing 2 years of life physically, mentally and emotionally.

A wife needing to connect and stay connected to her husband in a new season of life.

A friend who desires connection in all forms and desires to give that same connection back.

A beloved daughter of the King and member of His Kingdom.

I seriously feel so much more at peace, with who I am, where I am, and the communities I belong to.

What are you being challenged with?

 

 

20 weeks!


In some ways I can’t believe it has been 20 weeks, and in other ways I can’t believe it’s only been 20 weeks! If this last week is any indication it seems the last 18 weeks are not going to be a downward journey but rather I will continue to travel uphill with a new struggle each day/week.  Again in a lot of ways I’m completely 100% ok with this, and I really hope that I do get to travel 18 more weeks with this little babe in my belly.  Every day is worth it totally and completely.  In other ways I just wish some circumstances were easier for me to travel in.

The last two weeks have me facing the very real reality that I will not be able to work to 36 weeks again like I did when I was pregnant with Ezekiel.  At 20 weeks pregnant I’m finding it hard to get through small day to day tasks let alone getting through a work day (even an 8 hr work day).  I’ve been having abdominal pains that no one can figure out, and on top of that if I’m up and moving too much I feel the heaviness in my uterus and the irritability that causes it.  These things scare me to some degree considering my labor with Ezekiel was termed a “silent labor” and the only reason I was at the hospital was because I thought I was being extra cautious.  I constantly wonder what next time will bring – will it be obvious or will it happen without my knowledge again? What will the signs be? How cautious do I really have to be?

My physicians are not worried about premature labor at this point, and I am partially relieved about that and partially not relieved considering they weren’t concerned about premature labor last time either and I ended up having an intubated late term premie in the NICU.  They are encouraging me to work less and even stop working, and I started this pregnancy knowing that I was going to push back on that quite a bit.  However, I am now humbly realizing that I am the expert on my body and my body is sending me very clear signals that it’s almost time to stop.  The pain in my joints is increasing with each day, the pain in my lower abdomen as well as right side gets worse with increased activity and now my chronic back pain that was well controlled is again out of control.

Here’s the dilemma – money.

I hate that.  I hate that money has enough control to make this decision one of the most difficult.  I’ve been praying for wisdom in each decision and I’m struggling with this one.  I’ve secured some finances so that if I have to stop working suddenly we can still make ends meet – but that just puts me in more debt, something I was really hoping to have whittled down by the time this little one came.

Yet money is just money.  If I get back to a Kingdom mindset (again, trying really hard with this one), then I know that the money that passes through my hands is not mine but graciously given to me by God.  So if it’s not mine to start with and if He’s provided me with everything I need to this point it stands to reason that this small portion of my life will also be taken care of.  In the grand scheme of things this is just a small part of life, and we will get through it and it will all be ok in the end regardless of what that looks like.

I wish that made the decision easier…..

Truth

If you are a woman who has had children, or anyone who has known a woman while she was carrying a child then you most likely know that the task is not an easy one.  It’s not all fun bump pics and planning nurseries.  It’s exhausted days, sickness for weeks (or months), growing out of clothing, adjusting to lots of new weight and a new centre of gravity, it’s painful kicks to ribs and cervixes, running to empty your measly bladder every 10 minutes, it’s new sensations and worries about each one – and the list goes on.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s also joy, expectations, dreams, anticipation and feelings of love like you’ve never had before (spoiler alert that love intensifies with every single day).

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a co-worker about my pregnancy.  She was wondering how I was feeling, I gave my usual response of a shrug and “not to bad actually” and then I said, “I actually don’t mind being pregnant at all.”  See, being pregnant with Marfan Syndrome poses some risks that aren’t always present in a healthy woman’s pregnancy and it also means that my joints have a much harder time adjusting to the extra hormones and weight that my body accumulates.  Most people think I’m crazy when I say I don’t mind being pregnant because they see me waddle around like I’m 40 weeks pregnant but the waddle starts around week 10-12 because my hips and my pelvis begin to become painful.  Usually the pain increases every 2-3 weeks and I mentally take about 5-7 days to adjust to the increase and then life is fine again.

Yesterday, however, I came home after work with pain that was normal and by the time I got into bed at 6:45pm I could barely lift my legs into the bed.  My pain had not only intensified this time but I began to have new pains that I had never experienced before.  I tried and tried and tried to get comfortable and finally fell into a very fitful uncomfortable sleep.  I woke up at 1:30 right on schedule with my bladder, and I couldn’t fall back asleep again but instead of it being simple pregnancy insomnia it was because I was still in so much pain.  Then I let the pain do something to me that I never let it do, I let it get to me mentally.  So I lay in bed last night going through all the what ifs in my life right now.

  • What if I can’t adjust to this pain this time?
  • What if the pain continues to get so bad I literally can’t walk?
  • What if I really do have to stop working early?
  • What if my last echo (on Nov 1) shows really bad news?
  • What if I have to have open heart surgery while pregnant or worse while I have a NICU baby?
  • What if I can’t carry this baby to full term?
  • What if we can’t pay our bills?
  • What if……

Honestly, it was ridiculous! Yes those are all risks of my pregnancy but as of right now they aren’t imminent risks (aside from the pain) and they aren’t risks I ever overly stress about.  As I lay in bed worrying about my ability to overcome my pain I let my mind get the best of me and finally I had to just yell at myself to STOP being so ridiculous.

I made myself remember the truth that I know:

  • This baby was conceived and given life for a reason beyond my ability to understand.

If I truly believe that (which I do) then I have to believe that every struggle along the road of bringing this babe Earth-side is not only worth it but also possible.  I also have to believe that life will work itself out, every detail will fall into place and every “what if” will fall to the wayside.  It might not be how I would like it to happen, and it might come with even more struggles but it WILL work out.

I wrote this all out, not just for my own processing, but also as a reminder to whoever reads it that life works itself out.  Whatever struggle you are dealing with – surrender to the process and remember that the end will come eventually, it’ll be hard and strenuous but it will be worth it.

Life Stresses

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This summer truly has been a struggle for us in the Monteiro household – and last week I promised to give you the low down.  I’ll start in July the last time my parents were here to watch Ezekiel.

Ezekiel has always been a great napper, right from day 1 he literally would only wake up to eat.  He very gradually increased his awake time but even at 8 months old he could only stand to be awake for 2-3 hours at a time.  When I went back to work he went down to one nap because that was easiest with the dayhome.  Even when he’s tired he’s mostly pleasant but certainly you can tell when he’s exhausted.  Everyday he would come home exhausted and everyday I chalked it up to all the playing and stimulation he got at the dayhome.  When my parents were here it gave me an opportunity to notice that he was a lot more tired than I had thought.  For 10 days he took naps that were consistently 4-5 hours long.  I know, who worries or complains about their child sleeping?! The thing is he was also sleeping for 12 hours at night for a total of 16-17 hours of sleep per day and was still looking and sometimes acting very tired.

Thankfully I work with my pediatrician and so on the Sunday after this had happened for 10 days I asked what he thought – he suggested bringing him in for some blood work to rule anything out but wasn’t too concerned at the time.  We did the blood work but didn’t hear anything back.

The mom part of me thought “Great, there was nothing worrisome in the blood work so I can just let him sleep and not worry about it.”

The nurse part of me thought, “I need numbers and concrete evidence that everything is ok.”

The next time I saw our paediatrician at work I asked if he had seen it – he hadn’t as it hadn’t been flagged for his review.

Let me take a second to do a bit of teaching – you are responsible for your health (and your children’s).  You are the advocate and it is your responsibility to follow up on everything.  So many people assume that everything is fine when they don’t hear back from doctor’s offices, but the thing is those doctors care for a large amount of patients and their staff are human.  Both of those things means: 1) mistakes are going to happen and 2) there’s no way to follow up on every single thing that is talked about unless that patient brings it to follow up.  My suggestion (I’m talking to myself as well) is that if you leave a Dr’s office with a task (get blood work, or go for tests, or take this medicine for such and such time and see how things are ) you need to make sure you book an appointment to follow up on that task and not assume that it’s going to all be taken care of. In this situation my paediatrician knows that I can’t always afford to take time off work and since we often see each other on the weekends at work that we could just follow up that way.  In the future I’ll always just suck it up and book the follow up.

Ok now I’m off that soap box.

He promptly went to take a look and then came back and pulled me out of a patients room (that’s a good way to cause a heart attack in a mother).  Ezekiel’s blood work looks a little funny – his hemoglobin is low, and his iron is half of the lowest normal.  So there’s the reason for the fatigue and lack of energy – however it goes a bit farther than that.  Based on the rest of the blood work that was done it is very suspicious of a genetic blood disorder called Thalassemia.

IF that is the case I doubt that he would have a severe form of it and at first I was feeling not really stressed about it.  However, the longer the time goes between then and knowing for certain the more stressed I am feeling about it – probably because that’s not the only thing going on with us.

Let’s move on to Carlos.  Carlos is a student and is very committed to doing well in school – this has resulted in a lot of stress for him and also a lot of anxiety.  Two weeks ago he was writing final exams for the summer semester and was complaining of a persistent headache.  I (as the good nurse and wife that I am) brushed it off and chalked it up to being tired and anxious.  Thankfully Carlos was doing some google research of his own and suggested that he take his blood pressure.  We’ve known that he’s had slightly elevated blood pressures in the past – but at that point he’d only had his blood pressure taken a hand full of times in Dr’s offices where he is always anxious.  Anyways, I sent him to the nearest Shopper’s Drugmart to use their machine by the pharmacy.  He came home and took Ezekiel upstairs to have a bath and get ready for bed, I didn’t ask at that point what his blood pressure was because I really wasn’t too concerned.  When I went upstairs he casually showed me the picture of his blood pressure reading – 198/125.  I nearly had a heart attack at that point thinking of the dangers of a blood pressure that high.  I immediately put Ezekiel to bed and asked our roommate to listen for him.  We went to Emergency – which was a big waste of time as they did nothing for him – that’s another rant in and of itself that I won’t get into.  The next day I took him to our family doc who is phenomenal and we started him on some blood pressure medication.  That was a week and a half ago and we’ve been diligent in tracking his blood pressure since then.  It hasn’t gone down to normal but I think we are on the right track.

Last week I was really feeling the stress of both of those things and on top of that I had been sick for the 4 weeks prior to that and am just starting to feel like I’m getting back on track health wise.

In the midst of all of this I have realized that even when I mentally don’t feel stressed – like in these situations, physically my body is responding to the stress.  People always talk about feeling stressed and I always assumed that applied to mentally feeling the stress.  I’m learning that mentally I rarely feel that stressed, I can rationalize my way through most situations and that contributes to not feeling a lot of mental stress.  I’m thankful for that coping mechanism because when I do mentally feel stressed I shut down and can’t motivate myself to do anything.  However stress is felt in so many ways other than mentally.  I can tell that my body is continually fighting off sickness because I’m physically feeling the stress of our current health situation. Eventually it has boiled over to this general feeling of anxiety that I just can’t pin point – I am NOT an anxious person at all but lately I’ll have a day or two where I just can’t seem to fight off this feeling of a bit of anxiety.  I’m so thankful I work with amazing people who continually help me talk through each situation which helps me forget about it and move on.  Later on I’ll talk about some natural strategies I’m using to help my body deal with the stress.  Yesterday I got thrown another curve ball that’s piled on the stress so I’m going to be trying very diligently to combat the stress with some natural remedies.

I’m sorry this turned into a book! Thanks for reading this far.  I’m so glad for great healthcare and amazing doctors who look after my family.